Within any given MTG set, there is always a reprint or two to excite players. Whether it’s a surprise constructed bomb returning or a valuable piece of utility, reprints are core to the MTG experience. As most MTG players will know, however, there are far more than one or two reprints included within every set.
Within most premier sets, Wizards tends to reprint between 10 and 30 cards, however, most of these aren’t much to write home about. No one was clamoring for the $0.07 reprint of Jungle Hollow in March of the Machine, for instance. Despite the dismal value and being generally unexciting, these cards are nonetheless important to the Limited environment.
For better or worse, the demands of Limited lets Wizards get away with reprinting a lot of Draft chaff. Players may not like it, but ultimately it’s integral to building a set that people actually want to play. For better or worse, however, not every product in MTG is designed to be Drafted and played with. The List, for example, is merely an added bonus sheet that could contain all the value in the world… right?
Unfortunately, now that the latest version of The List has been released, that is evidently not the case. As a result of this consistent disappointment, many MTG players have simply had enough.
Miffed about The List
First introduced in Zendikar Rising, The List has always been an unusual addition to Set Boosters. Offering players a chance at one of 300 cards from throughout Magic’s history, The List provided what MTG players love most: reprints. Unfortunately, however, the majority of the reprinted cards aren’t exactly very good.
Thankfully, as we covered recently, there are a few valuable cards that can be found on The List. For instance, in Commander Masters Flusterstorm is a potential $20 pull! While this is undeniably a great find, even from a $16 Set Booster, it is just one of 300 cards. Disappointingly, the majority of those cards are worth next to nothing.
When looking at the latest version of The List as a whole, the initially enticing value looks a lot bleaker. Currently, according to TCGplayer’s Mass Entry tool, the entirety of The List is only worth around $500. This may seem like a decent sum of money, however, don’t forget it is split between 300 cards. As a result, each pull from The List has an average value of just $1.60.
In theory, having an extra $1.60 of value added to a Set Booster may seem like no bad thing. Unfortunately, however, in reality, this average is a touch too simplistic to be useful. After all, while they do contribute to The List’s total value, players often aren’t keen to buy or sell sub $1 cards.
When taking the effectively worthless >$1 cards into account, players only have a 28% chance of finding a sellable card. As if that wasn’t bad enough, The List only appears in 25% of all Set Boosters, making finding one of these worthwhile cards even harder. As a result of this dismal value, it can understandably be rather hard to get excited.
Enough is Enough
Unfortunately for MTG players, the disappointing value found within The List is nothing new. Sure, at times it can be enjoyably flavorful, however, for the most part, it just seems like random needless MTG reprints. This has led to many players, such as u/celmate, simply getting tired of The List being a constant letdown.
Within a recent post on Reddit, Celmate lamented the rather dire state of The List, as it stands now. “Why does WotC put Draft Chaff in The List slot?” Highlighting the baffling inclusion of the $0.04 Crumbling Colossus, Celmate asked again why Wizards doesn’t give players something they might want. “Why not use playable common/uncommons with an alternate art or something interesting at least?”
Unfortunately for Celmate and players feeling the same way, there’s not really a satisfying explanation for The List’s disappointing cards. According to u/Vargen_HK, part of the reason is to deliberately surprise players with the good and the bad from Magic’s past. This way, even if it’s not always a good one, cards from The List are always a nostalgic surprise at least.
Alongside this, it’s highly likely that reprint equity does have some effect on what gets included within The List. Theoretically, Wizards could flood the list with reprints of expensive MTG staples such as Mana Crypt. Doing this, however, would be a terrible business strategy, as when included in sets, these valuable cards sell packs.
Similarly to what we’ve seen with the main Commander Masters sets, this means there will only ever be so many good reprints. Sadly, this may well comden The List to always be a letdown. Thankfully, however, there is a solution.
Fixing the Flaws
Somewhat remarkably, Wizards has actually fixed The List before. This happened for Streets of New Capenna. Rather than featuring the usual smorgasbord of 300 cards, this 2022 set featured just 67. Much to the delight of players, this diminished list only contained rare or mythic cards, including Universes Within reprints.
If you ask us, and the many players that loved it, this was a great solution for The List’s major flaw. After all, not only was it interesting, but there was a higher chance of finding value. The only downside is that not finding The List in a Set Booster was extra disappointing, as no one wants a useless marketing card.
Ultimately, despite the strengths of this rare-only version of The List, it was not meant to be, as Wizards switched back to normal for the next set. Thankfully, however, this wasn’t the end of Wizards’ experimentation. For Unfinity, Wizards massively shook up the list to only contain Silver-bordered cards. While these weren’t black-bordered reprints, for better or worse, they nevertheless heightened the flavor and fun of the set.
Alongside this major experiment, Wizards has shaken up The List in a similar way multiple times. March of the Machine, for instance, included reprints of characters that had been compleated by the Phyrexians. Just like Unfinity, this helped to heighten the flavor of the set, so long as you were lucky enough to find one of these reprints.
To propose another solution, we’d suggest taking things one step further and continuing Unfinity’s trend. Rather than simply swapping out 75 cards each time, Wizards should change up everything. Hell, Wizards could reprint an entire set if they wanted to. For example, The List for Wilds of Eldraine could be exclusively cards from Throne of Eldraine.
The Harsh Reality
Despite potential solutions to The List’s woes seeming obvious to players, ultimately, there’s currently no indication Wizards is planning on changing things. Subsequently, MTG players may just be stuck hunting for the prize picks. While this is definitely somewhat disappointing, ultimately, it may not be the end of the world.
At the end of the day, not every MTG product has to be an incredible reprint that pays for your pack. Sure, it would be nice, however, some MTG products can just be for fun, or even just be a nice surprise! This seems to be the case for The List, which is undoubtedly better than nothing since it replaces a marketing card. Thanks to that, even the average $1.60 is a worthwhile piece of added value.
Still, with that in mind, we certainly hope that Wizards doesn’t neglect The List going forward. Even if it’s not bad, as Streets of New Capenna and Unfinity have proven, it can be so much better!